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More wine from the vines

A SURGE in vineyard developments during the past three years is having a flow-on effect in liquor regulation with a growing number of applications for wine producer’s licences.

According to the Liquor Licensing there were 318 producer’s licences in existence up to August 10 this year.

Liquor Licensing has approved between 30 and 40 applications a year but it is expecting a significant increase this year, with around 50 likely.

In past eight weeks alone, 16 different groups from several regions in WA have applied for the licence.

Director of Liquor Licensing Hugh Highman said the wave of new licences reflected the growth in vineyards in recent years, largely due to tax-driven investment.

“I think now a lot of these smaller producers have got to the stage that they are producing wine,” Mr Highman said.

“There are a lot (of applications) going through.

“It might be a peak a time for wine producers because they have finished bottling and need some cash flow.”

Among those recently applying for a licence is David Britten, who has bottled his first wines after planting about two hectares on the Kent River near Denmark about three years ago.

Mr Britten’s Moombaki Wines had about 1400 cases of chardonnay made at the Porongorup Winery, using about two tonnes of the 11-tonne harvest. The rest is red wine which has been stored in oak.

“It was always the intention of making it into wine, not just to sell the grapes,” he said.

Moombaki is a project that emerged after Mr Britten and his family moved to Denmark eight years after he ran a pool table supply business in Perth.

He said he realised the competition was stiff but the belief was that a concentration on high quality, with the whole vineyard under nets, would help the label compete in the crowded local market.

Moombaki, which has been partially funded by Mr Britten’s family and a Swiss wine merchant friend, would aim at the restaurant trade and build up a direct following.

WA Wine Industry Association chief executive Tamara Stevens said the association was not concerned by the growth in numbers of producers but simply focused on ensuring the State’s wine production was aimed at the premium end of the market.

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